Second Mile charity to freeze assets following lawsuit

STATE COLLEGE, Pa Fri Dec 2, 2011 8:00pm EST

Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno walks to his residence after speaking to a group of students rallying outside it in State College, Pennsylvania, November 8, 2011.  REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno walks to his residence after speaking to a group of students rallying outside it in State College, Pennsylvania, November 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa (Reuters) - The Second Mile charity has agreed to freeze its assets to settle a lawsuit filed by a man identified only as Victim 4 in a sexual abuse indictment against a former Penn State football coach, the man's lawyers said on Friday.

The Second Mile charity to help troubled children was founded by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with molesting eight men when they were juveniles in a scandal that rocked the multimillion dollar world of college athletics.

The man identified as Victim 4 in a grand jury report filed the lawsuit last month in state court in Philadelphia to preserve Second Mile's assets. His lawyers, Ben Andreozzi and Jeffrey Fritz, said the charity has settled that suit.

They also said in a statement that the man planned to eventually file another lawsuit seeking damages "from the organizations and individuals responsible for the sexual assaults upon our clients."

Those clients include other accusers who have contacted the lawyers since the grand jury indicted Sandusky, a spokeswoman for the law firm said, declining further comment.

The Second Mile charity, through which Sandusky allegedly met his victims, has said it was considering three options for its future, one of which was closing. It has told potential donors to give to another charity.

In settling the lawsuit, the Second Mile agreed to obtain court approval prior to the transfer of assets or closure, and to provide notice to the man. It also agreed to allow the man "to be heard by the court regarding the interest of victims and the distribution of assets."

The Second Mile said of the deal: "The agreement reiterates the Second Mile's existing legal obligations; it does not include a finding of liability."

Separately, an attorney for another accuser rejected comments by Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola, this week that Sandusky was innocent because some of his accusers had maintained relationships with him.

Amendola told the Harrisburg Patriot-News daily that Victims 2 and 6 of the grand jury report had dined with Sandusky and his wife in summer 2011.

REPORTED ON DETAILS OF DINNER

Howard Janet, a Baltimore lawyer who represents Victim 6, said the July dinner was initiated after Sandusky knew he was under investigation by a grand jury.

Victim 6 also told police about the invitation. He declined a request to wear an electronic listening device but reported details afterward to authorities, Janet said in a statement.

"Today, we call on Sandusky and his lawyer to stop the manipulation and mental abuse of these former Second Mile children and Penn State devotees so that this matter may be resolved quickly and the healing may get underway," he said.

Penn State's Board of Trustees also formally dismissed legendary football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, finalizing actions taken last month after Sandusky's indictment on 40 criminal counts.

The brief meeting of trustees made official the November 9 firings of Spanier and Paterno in the scandal. Paterno was head coach of the Nittany Lions, a college football powerhouse, for 46 years.

"I think today we wanted to make sure we crossed our 't's and dotted our 'i's," university spokesman Bill Mahon said.

Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, was accused of sexually assaulting young boys over a 15-year period. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has maintained his innocence.

A ninth accuser came forward this week to file a lawsuit against Sandusky, Penn State and The Second Mile.

The executive committee voted unanimously on the resolutions severing Paterno and Spanier from their positions, Mahon said. It also voted unanimously on a resolution to replace Spanier with Rodney Erickson.

Spokeswoman Lisa Powers declined to comment on such details of Paterno and Spanier's dismissals as access to university facilities and financial questions. She said they were either being discussed or subject to confidentiality clauses.

Paterno was the highest-paid employee at Penn State in 2009, making $1.02 million , according to a university federal filing this year. Spanier was the fifth-highest paid employee at $814,000.

Although technically fired, Spanier still holds a tenured position with the university. Mahon said he remains eligible to go on a one-year sabbatical and return to teach at Penn State following a hiatus.

Mahon could not say for certain if the same provision worked for Paterno.

(Additional reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Jerry Norton, Barbara Goldberg, Greg McCune and Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (1)
PSUtragedy wrote:
A few days after news of the tragedy broke, the media reported, “The school considered cancelling the [Nebraska] game but decided it would be unfair to players and fans, board member Linda Strumpf told Reuters.”

Unfortunately, the bigger point is being missed. Coaches and administrators need to be better deterred from covering for sports programs when the sexual innocence of children is at risk. Firings and jail time are not enough. Shutting down such sports programs adds a lot. No one wants to be responsible for such an outcome. Accordingly, the Penn State football program needs to be shut down for at least the same number of years that the allegations of sexual misconduct were covered up.

Over the years, a number of collegiate basketball and football programs have been shut down for multiple years for various combinations of academic fraud, point shaving scandals, and recruiting violations. Those situations pale in comparison to what happened with the Penn State football program.

Dec 03, 2011 11:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
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